How To Build Your Personal Brand

How To Build Your Personal Brand

Personal branding isn’t just for celebrities anymore. In the digital age, you have a brand whether you realize it or not. It is always beneficial to develop your brand with intention.

Your personal brand is everything that communicates who you are and your unique value. Think of any established company, most likely this company has a unique brand identity. Their brand identity reflects the corporate culture, product, ideal audience and values. The same applies to any celebrity or reputed thought leader. Likewise, you also have a personal brand.

Many allow their brand to evolve almost by accident. You have an advantage if you strategically cultivate your professional brand. Here are a few self exploration exercises to help you develop your personal brand.

Create Your Vision: How Do You Want To Be Known?

Your brand sets you apart from the masses. People connect to an authentic and engaging brand. Take time to cultivate self-awareness of who you are now, what you can offer, and who you want to be. Feel free to be aspirational in your approach.

Prompts To Help You Get Started Building Your Brand:

  • Where do you see yourself in a year, five years, ten years?
  • What is your primary service or product? Your expertise? Your style?
  • How do you describe your personality?
  • What do your clients, employers, and colleagues love about you?
  • What unique value do you offer?
  • What is the best thing you do? What are your talents?
  • What are your areas of expertise?
  • What are your passions?
  • What makes you different than everyone else?

You may notice some overlap in these questions. These questions are a jumping off point to help you explore your unique qualities. Your answers help you craft how you want to be known. In other words, your answers are the origin of your brand!

Do an Honest SWOT Analysis

Now that you know where you want to be, consider where you are now. A SWOT analysis involves noting your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This process is a typical part of business plan development. It is also a useful personal branding exercise. Self-awareness always improves your branding strategy. Once you complete your SWOT analysis, pay particular attention to your strengths. Build your brand on your strengths! Next, consider your opportunities, this may help you define your ideal audience.

Your weaknesses and threats are also useful. They help you narrow your niche to accommodate your strengths. You may also find some of your weaknesses hinder your desired brand. In that case, your weaknesses also help you plan your continuing education strategy. For example, if you want to write a book on wine in your region you might want eventually promote the book through public readings and book tours. If public speaking is a weakness, joining Toastmasters or a community college course might turn a weakness into a strength.

What Is Your Emotional Appeal?

Successful brands appeal to our emotions. When developing your personal brand, consider your emotional appeal. Are you the rock your co-workers lean on? Are you a calming presence? Are you the life of the party? Within the scope of your profession, think about how to apply your emotional appeal to your areas of expertise. Your emotional appeal may help you define your ideal audience. For example, an account who feels her emotional appeal is 'fun' may find a niche presenting sophisticated financial concepts in a humorous and upbeat way. Once she realizes this is her unique brand, she may consider who this would interest. Those people are her ideal audience.

Define Your Ideal Audience's Profile

In defining an effective strategy you can't be everything to everyone. Develop your ideal audience profile so you don't fall into the trap of trying to please everyone. These profiles also help you to tailor your brand to appeal to the right people. You may have more than one ideal audience, but the more specific, the better.

Questions to Ask About Your Ideal Audience:

  • What challenges or problems do members of your ideal audience face?
  • How old are they? Describe their demographics?
  • What is their lifestyle? Where do they live? Do they own or rent? What are their interests? How do they spend their time?
  • How can you help them?
  • How can you make their life better? How can you make their job easier?
  • How do you want them to see you?

Some marketers make the ideal customer concrete by making fictitious profiles featuring stock photos. They imagine their family, their career aspirations, their hobbies, and their social life.

Consider What You Want To Communicate

Developing your message is an ongoing process. This is where the work you have done starts to come together. Consider, your ideal audience, your unique value, and your strengths. Be authentic and your best self.

Take Your Personal Brand Out Into The World

Once you develop the message and look for your brand, you want to share it with the world. Keep in mind anything you write, post, or say either reinforces or damages your brand. Aim for style and consistency to create a memorable impression.

Your Brand Offline:

Offline, you can expand your brand through public speaking, participation in networking groups, or by giving interviews. Anything that helps establish you as an expert or go-to person builds your brand. Your offline and online branding complement each other. You can extend your local brand through your online activities.

Your Brand Online:

Your social media profiles and website reflect your online brand. Also, any articles you write contribute to your position as a thought leader in your field. Since your online presence is so far-reaching, pay extra attention to this aspect of your brand.

As a professional, your LinkedIn presence is essential for your personal brand. All aspects of your profile inform potential clients and employers of your unique qualities. The content you share establishes your position as a helpful resource and expert. Use it wisely to reinforce both your online and offline personal brand. Make sure you study personal branding. These personal branding articles are a great start.

Building Your Brand Is An Ongoing Process

Overall, your personal brand helps create your position as a thought leader or expert in your field. The results of these self exploration exercises may guide you as you update your resume, write your LinkedIn profile, plan your elevator speech and plan your next presentation. This branding process is on-going and grows with you. Take time to evaluate and upgrade as you develop.

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